Twice as nice
Israel is Number 1 in yet another arena: No country in the world has a higher rate of twin births.
Of every 1,000 births there, 51 result in twins, Israel21C.org reports. In Holland, the rate is 20. Germany, 18. France, 16. Britain, 15.
And just two or three decades ago, the number was between 2 and 3.
As with so many of Israel’s world-beating “achievements,” the dramatic difference has a lot to do with science. In this case, it’s the science of in-vitro fertilization, which is significantly more likely to result in multiple births.
While IVF is offered in many nations, there still is the matter of why Israel is so far in the lead. It could have something to do with the fact that fertility treatments there are fully funded by the government.
Speaking of IVF…
Israel is a very family- and child-oriented society, and sensitive and open-minded Israeli courts are constantly stretching the limits of how one can have a family.
Four years ago, the drive to have a child and the drive to have a grandchild were the catalyst for a unique bond, when the bereaved parents of an only child (who lost his battle with cancer six years ago at the age of 30, after optimistically freezing his sperm), latched up with a young woman in her mid-thirties who wanted more than “a child without a father” picked out in a sperm bank. She wanted a family.
The three got the court’s approval to bring a child into the world together, based on the repeated “oral last wishes” of the deceased to father a child. Thus, while there are children who have been orphaned by tragedy before they were born, the daughter of this unique union is the first Israeli baby to be orphaned before she was conceived.
Mercedes-Benz wants everyone to know it had absolutely nothing to do with an unauthorized and troubling commercial touting the intelligence of the collision-avoidance system on its cars.
And if you don’t want me to totally spoil it for you, click here to watch it before you read any further.
The student-produced, incredibly high-quality art-school project shows a driverless Mercedes cruising through the European countryside in the distant past when it suddenly stops on its own to avoid two young girls playing in the road.
A bit further on, we see a boy running with a kite. As he veers toward the road, we hear the car approaching. But instead of slowing down, the engine revs harder and the action speeds up. Suddenly, in a rapid-fire series of cinematic devices worthy of Hitchcock, an infamous portrait flashes past, a crow screeches as it flies from a haystack, and a mother screams her son’s name, “Adolf!”
As the car slows and continues on, it passes a sign revealing the name of the town – the one Hitler was raised in.
A tagline declares the Mercedes “Detects dangers before they come up.”
The closing shot shows the lifeless boy, his arms and legs twisted in the shape of that all-too-familiar cross.
Holiday shopping time
Thanskgivukkah is coming! Did you order your menurkey?
If you have no idea what that means, congratulations on not getting caught up (at least, not yet) in invented seasonal mishagas. But, at the least, you probably should know it’s coming because, after all, people will be talking.
For the first time ever, Thanksgiving (which is only 150 years old in the U.S.) will fall during Chanukah this year. That’s led to the inevitable truncation creation of Thanksgivukkah. And how do you celebrate Thanksgivukkah? With a menurkey, of course – a turkey-shaped menorah.
At least, that’s how 9-year-old Asher Weintraub and his dad, Anthony, hope you will see it. The ambitious fourth-grader decided the once-in-several-lifetimes overlap of holidays warranted a unique ceremonial symbol, so he designed the menurkey.
Unlike other creative kids who might have left it at that, however, Asher and dad took it to a professional design studio, where they created a 3D-printer-generated prototype. Then they taped a video pitch to raise $25,000 on Kickstarter, the grassroots, person-to-person venture capital website.
How did that go? At last check, they had more than $38,000 from 620-plus backers.
So with cash for production and marketing, it presumably is full-speed ahead to get a menurkey into every home in time for the first night of Chanukkah, which this year also is known as Thanksgiving eve.
A beauty queen like no other
It’s hard to imagine that Bert Parks ever would have sung, “There she is, Miss Holocaust.”
But nonetheless, last month at a beauty pageant in Haifa, 93-year-old Shoshana Colmer received the crown and title of Miss Holocaust Survivor, JTA reported.
While some may consider crass the specter of a beauty pageant for survivors of Auschwitz and other camps, this year’s event, the second annual, drew 300 applicants and thousands of spectators. The organizers, a geriatric psychiatrist and the director of a survivors support group, say it boosts the participants’ self-esteem and helps them deal with the issue of their survival.
Want fries with that?
You probably were wondering what to serve at the next get-together of your friends, who include a few vegetarians, some animal-rights activists and members of the kosher-keeping crowd.
Well, now the answer is clear: kosher cheeseburgers.
No, I’m not talking veggie burgers or soy cheese. These are the real thing. Subject, of course, to your definition of real.
Last month, JTA reports, scientists unveiled the first “cultured” burger, a 5-ounce patty of meat created from stem cells harvested from a cow’s shoulder muscle. The cells grew into tiny strips in a petri dish, and 20,000 or so strips yielded enough for the burger.
For reasons best left to rabbinic experts, the end product is considered neither meat nor dairy – it’s parve. So slapping a slice of cheddar on top would be completely, well, kosher.
Of course, it may be a while before these show up at Mickey D’s. The prototype burger took $325,000 and two years to create. If it makes it to mass production, that could drop to a mere $30 a pound, backers estimate.